Physician and Patient

Wotcha everyone,

I am the Healer.  Whilst Tanks might think they rule the battleground, and DPS might think they are gods, without me they are corpses.

That is my little bit of god complex out of the way.  I find that the arrogance that such a belief engenders helps focus me, and enables me to do a better job.  So it does vaguely annoy me when I hear that no Warrior Priests are healing.

Much has been said about Archmages, and the way that their grand gestures and sparkly effects light them up like Christmas trees bestrewn with little Renown filled presents for any Destruction characters in the area, but from my perspective, I don’t see much difference between twirling a staff and glowing and shoving your hammer in the air and glowing.

The only real difference is that when I do my poncey healing showing off, I’m stuck in the midst of the grand melee, with everyone *already* trying to smack me.

(I can’t really comment about Rune Priests; I believe they’re little healer show-offs too, but generally when they’re healing I’ve got my dander up, and am too busy annoying my neighbours by shouting “Sigmar!  Sigmar!” at the screen to notice them.  Sorry.)

So, this whole “keeping everyone alive” malarkey.  Well, I like to think I’m fabulous.  And the way I get to show how fabulous I am is by healing well enough that no-one dies.  In other games, this is easy (he says, nonchalantly.  I kill balrogs for fun, me).  Because most other games are designed as PvE games with PvP added to the mix, your pure and hybrid healers get big heals, flash heals, and heals over time.  Usually more than one of each.

Boy do I miss them…

Although I will admit, I do like the way that Warhammer Online is a PvP game with PvE added.  I can see why some of the design choices have been made; Nothing is more soul destroying than chipping away at someone, getting them most of the way to Mostly Dead, and suddenly they’ve been healed up to full.

Morale does let you have big heals, but they’re not that big, and they’re not that clever.  They most certainly can’t be spammed.

Instead, I get the ability to do damage, and heal at the same time.  Sort of novel, really.  But it does mean that whilst I get to show off with my hammer in the air (“Look Ma, I’m healing!”) most of the time when I’m healing, it’s not that noticeable in the midst of all the fighting.

It’s melee.  Weapons are flying all over the place, and every so often some ranged DPS decides to help out by lobbing some lovely particle-spamming aoe goodness in there.  Everyone’s adrenaline is up, and to be perfectly honest, I’d prefer it if the tanks and dps around me are doing their job of crushing my enemies, rather than watching their health bars.  Or looking for a little sparkly bit of healing goodness coalescing around their character.

So, all being well, you’re not going to die (or at the least, die slower), whilst I’m smacking Destruction in the face for Sigmar.  How will I do that?

I don’t see much point in giving out crunch here.  If you want crunch, there is a scary amount of scary statisticians feeding crunch to various sites on the interwebnet, without me failing to make any useful contribution to them.  So I’ll not bother with the numbers, but I’ll see if I can get some of the skill names right, at least.  Hopefully.

During closed beta, I preferred using a Path of Grace build.  I’d looked at Salvation a lot, but found that Grace allowed me to get in and mix it a lot more than Salvation.  I’d choose my tank, stand next to him, and by using Divine Strike and Sigmar’s Radiance (with the tactic Grace of Sigmar slotted) it meant that I could do quite a bit of group healing to the melee contingent around me without having to retarget.  If you’re within 10 feet of me, you get healed for a small amount every time I swing that hammer.  Add Sigmar’s Shield (for the next few seconds, you’ll get healed every time you’re hit), and you get a lovely damage mitigator that will eat my Righteous Fury, but there’s nothing to worry about, as I’ll be getting it all back again soon enough.

Prayer of Devotion also rewards a group for getting stuck in there (20% of the time, you’ll get a heal just for smacking something.  See?  Sigmar loves you too), and Divine Assault is also a good heal, and the nearest I can find to (and I laugh) burst damage that a Warrior Priest can do, even if Path of Grace doesn’t enhance it.

All of these heals can add up, in time.  At the very least, they’re great damage mitigation, allowing my Rune Priest and Archmage comrades the opportunity to get some healing in and save all our souls from a distance.

But in order for me to do that, I need to be in combat, swinging the hammer.  Same goes for other Warrior Priests as well.  So whilst it might not *look* like we’re healing you, we most probably are.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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Born to Rune

First, full acknowledgement to Terry Pratchett for the above pun (found in ‘Soul Music’ as far as I recollect).

We’re just over a couple of weeks into WAR – how’s it going for you?

Me, I made my little Rune Priest (Kaja) and I’ve been having both good and bad times stomping and kicking the enemy as well as twirling my staff as if I’m auditioning for the role of Claire Bennett in Heroes. I know I love to heal, and the Rune Priest ticks all my boxes. It’s also meant I’ve had to learn a bit about self-preservation, with the detaunts and Grimnir’s Shield (rank 21 skill), as well as the fine art of actually doing a little damage in-between healing.

Everyone who recommended I try out a Rune Priest after all my angsting, you were right. It’s just what I needs right now, and though I am tempted to still try out a Warrior Priest and I have one made and ready, I like the freedom of being mechanic-less, and I can take the lesser dps I get from that.

First – I love the dwarf look. I even like the Rune Priest robe models (and I’m no fan of dresses, believe me!). And I love the big, clompy clogs. They make me feel like I’m wearing big DMs with a girly dress, something I might have been inclined to do if I ever wore a dress, but they make the Rune Priest a little more tomboyish – again, something that appeals. I like the hefty staff, it looks like it could knock an elf out if needed, and that makes me feel more.. like I could hit something with it, even if that wouldn’t be the best idea dps-wise.

Play-wise I don’t always stand at the back. Which is something I guess all healers are a little worried about. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have said before and meant it that standing at the back gives me one of the things I feel I need in gaming – perspective. I can see what’s going on, and take a second to take it all in. And I like that. But if I feel the need to run forward, I do. I have my shield, my detaunt, my self-healing – I can last long enough to annoy the enemy. I’ve picked up the Mourkain Artifact a few times and lived quite well to talk about it, I’ve blown up Talabec Dam (with some helpful cheerleading from my group, because I was terrified of the thing). But hey, don’t get me wrong or bitch and moan about it, I get slaughtered in moments as long as I’ve been noticed. Just, when I do get slaughtered I don’t have to feel like it was something I did wrong. It happens, we all get slaughtered and we all slaughter (or help others stay alive to slaughter). I’ve just entered Tier 3, and being at the bottom of the ladder there it’s a whole new learning process on how to play best in RvR. New skills, new masteries, etc – but I enjoy the kickstart every 10 or so ranks when you go from being big fish to little fish, learning to swim all over again.

In PvE I’m finding soloing as slow as it should be for a healer. And don’t get me wrong there, I’m managing, I plod away at quests or join others or ask friends. But I like the slowness sometimes, it gives me time to think about out-of-game things. There was part of Badlands where I thought I wouldn’t survive the respawn rate, but I found a place to fight more safely and managed the quest. Then I grouped up with someone I ran into and we ploughed through a few things. I like that changing pace.

In Public Quests.. well, here we come to something I’m not sure I should even say, but perhaps the contribution is occasionally skewed too much towards healing, but I’m doing generally well in them. When I get to do them. I did chapter 8 through grinding stage 1s, I haven’t done much of chapter 9 and I organised a guild event to do chapter 10.. so my Public Quest ratio isn’t the best ever, just noting that healing seems to perform pretty well, even when part of a warband! Your mileage may vary. Some of my feelings about PQ loot could be down to some extreme good rolls – which I have been having the last few days, so I’m expecting a downturn of luck soon.

As for masteries, etc. I’m not really an expert, I’m going with my gut which has dictated a Grungni/Grimnir mix. I’m not going to post the build, because it’s changing all the time. I did just get Master Rune of Fury which is a ground-targeted Rune that gives groupmates a 20% chance to restore 50AP every time they use an ability. It can be a bit hard to lay in RvR, scenarios anyway, but we’ve found it useful in PvE. And it’s pretty good just for me!

So basically I’m still really enjoying it, not finding the need for great number-crunching, still kind of bedding-in to the character. Even going to take her out for some roleplay tomorrow night which I’m greatly looking forward to. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about her adventures as the weeks go on!

Healers’ Rights!

It all sprung from an innocent comment Spinks made to me that she’d not yet seen a tome unlock for healing. Neither have I. Nor anyone I know. And that does strike me as strange, since there are so many for killing, surviving, etc. I know it’s  probably to make all tome unlocks avaible to all, I really do. But let me tell you, the chances of my Rune Priest getting more than a handful of killing blows on enemy players.. not that high!

Then we move onto the hoary old chestnut about healing people, and whether we do it or not. I’ve seen a few trolls on forums move in to say ‘hey guys, why don’t you do your job and heal’. Well, there’s not much to say to that. Remember the mechanics some of the healers are working with. Hawley just has to unleash his Righteous Fury in order to heal you/me and Spinks’ laser zaps increase or speed up her healing. My debuff means I take less damage, and yes, hey.. you might see me cast a spell that doesn’t seem to increase your health. That doesn’t mean I’m not being a good healer.

Let us learn our classes and how Mythic have diversified them, we’ll let you learn yours and try not to bitch quite so much about how little protection we often get. It’s a new game, with new healing systems and the majority of players are in Tier 2 somewhere.. there’s still a lot to learn about tactics, mastery lines, morale abilities, gear, etc.

Also, remember that our utility grows as we level up. It takes a while to get a big heal (rank 8), so before that all we can do is spam. Some of the heals are over time, so it may not seem as if you get the spike heal you wanted. Shields are good! They give us more time to get to the spike thing. And, don’t worry, healers bitch just as much, if not more if they think other healers aren’t doing their job.

Oh, and when your healer runs off to get the Mourkain artifact.. it’s not a BAD tactic. Healers are pretty good at keeping one another up.

ps. please, could we have some tome unlocks for healing?

The Shallow Players’ Guide to Warhammer Classes

Order

Empire (Humans)

Witch Hunter: gets the coolest sounding abilities, and fab gear (arbitrary) Be the coolest kid on your street (hawley) Watch out, it’s the new romantics! (spinks)

Bright Wizard: got put off when I blew myself up at rank 2 (arbitrary) got put off when I read the list of spells, it’s all fire fire fire (spinks) Got put off by the ’70s glam rock gear (hawley)

Warrior Priest: like the baldness, like the hammer and robe stuff, but having too much fun hitting to heal (arbitrary) too much hassle to bounce around in melee in PvP and heal and try to use buffs too (spinks) Being righteously furious made me bald. If “angry” is your bag, (s)he’s in it (hawley)

High Elves

He IS more useful than you are!

Is he more useful than you are?

White Lion: elves run funny, didn’t last long, forgot I had a pet (arbitrary) The lion looks fantastic, but I got worried people would decide *it* was more useful than I was (hawley) The axe is pretty badass, but lions were meant to be kille^D^D^D^D free! (spinks)

Swordmaster: looks great, very.. stylish whirly technique – quite liked it (arbitrary) Very tempted, looks great (spinks) Loved the look of the swords and shield, but a bit too… tanky… for me (hawley)

Shadow Warrior: pew-pew ninja, very stylish and mask hides the elfy face (arbitrary) Looks great again, but didn’t grab me (spinks) One I’ll probably “explore” at release, but for now I’m just giggling at the hippy-ninjas (hawley)

Archmage: prettiness in a light-show, preferred it to shaman actually, but elves run funny (arbitrary) Best class in the game! heals! nukes! twirls staff! good robe! (spinks) They run funny because they wear slippers. Slippers! Are all probably evil, with their healy-nukey slipper-wearing ways! (hawley)

Dwarfs

Ironbreaker: What’s not to love about a cute girl dwarf with an axe as big as she is. I have this great weakness for tanking big monsters with teeny characters too (spinks) love ’em, just don’t want to be one! (arbitrary) Best thing to follow and heal (hawley)

Rune Priest: the whole package in a rune-y dress (arbitrary) Solid healer type, didn’t like the hat though. The runes look great. (spinks) Great to hang around with, when feeling furiously righteous (hawley)

Engineer: bang, splat, powiee – nothing like batman (arbitrary) We need bigger guns! (spinks) Most fun you can have with your trousers still on (hawley)

Destruction

Greenskins

Shaman: spent far too long doing /special and /cheer, maybe I should have been healing? (arbitrary) Role-playing opportunities abound. Hard to know where the “clothes” stop, and the shaman begins (hawley) It isn’t easy being green. (spinks)

Squig Herder: Spent too long being eaten by squig (arbitrary) Squigs look fantastic. Like vicious space hoppers (hawley) Loved the squigs, not so big on gobbos (spinks)

Black Orc: huuuuuuge biceps dude, bit of a grunter (arbitrary) Be the “straight man” of the greenskin races. Still impressively wide (hawley) He really looks the part (spinks)

Chaos

Zealot: Kind of sexy in a hunched over way, love the skull, preferred RP (arbitrary) You’re never alone with a skull. Class most likely to tempt me to the dark side(hawley) She’s one of those creepy goths who tells really good horror stories. (spinks)

Magus: omg, I love the disk! I kept making her jump around so that I could see the animation where she landed back on the disk and rebalanced herself. The rest seemed cool too but … it’s all about the disk. I can’t get excited about a demon called a pink horror — maybe I’ll make a spore creature that looks like it though (Spinks) disk, disk, disk, disk – didn’t try any skills, floated a lot (arbitrary) Really fun to chase after (hawley)

Chosen: see a lot of them, was a bit.. male for me (arbitrary) too many of these around already (spinks) The armour looks amazing, but is a bit too kerrazily baroque for my liking (hawley)

Marauder: if I was going to be a chaos-boy, I’d be a marauder, it’s like playing dolls with exchangeable arms (arbitrary) Must get a free “Target Hawley” button. Died to these boys *a lot* (hawley) Arrrgh, naughty tentacles! (spinks)

Dark Elves

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf: it was awesome, the first grey drop I got was EVEN SKIMPIER than her starting gear. She still has more clothes on than Gisele in this months Arena though… (spinks) Slut! hrrm, where did that witch hunter go again? (arbitrary) Surprisingly distracting in combat. Change video details to “low” when fighting them (hawley)

Sorceress: spell list sounded cool but her skirt just hangs wrong. didn’t like the look (spinks) she looked bored at me, I got annoyed, elves and me just don’t connect (arbitrary) Squishy (hawley)

Disciple of Khaine: I like the look, but she’s under-fed – seriously! no wonder she looks so mad (arbitrary) dual wield, yay! (spinks) Second most likely to tempt me to the dark side. The gear looks amazing, and you won’t catch cold in a breeze (see Witch Elf wardrobe) (hawley)

Addendum: Classes your parents would like

  • White Lion – who doesn’t love a pet cat?
  • Black Orc – he has a plan, and parents always ask what you plan to do with your life
  • Witch Elf – Your dad will play one when your mum’s out. Your mum will play one when your dad’s out
  • Warrior Priest – They’ll bond with the Righteous Fury mechanic on an instinctive level

Confessions of a Cheerleader

I love my Rune Priest. It really does feel like Mythic managed to make a class that hit all the things I like about playing a healer. I get to buff, I get to heal, I even get to do a little damage and hit things with a big staff. Sometimes I twirl my staff and it’s all glowy and pretty. Then I feel like a proper cheerleader! Save the cheerleader…

No, I’m not going to write about why I personally love the Rune Priest. Accept it, I just do. I get to be short, stout, with big braids I’d never have in real life. I get to hit things, to buff things, to zap things and well.. to heal – which is all I ever really wanted from a class. Even the rune dress/robe (when you first get one) is pretty damn cute. I hate dresses, but I would even wear one of those in real life. Not the skullcap though, it ruined my whole braidy look. Bah!

I played one to rank 17 and then one at rank 31 in beta, and both times I just felt at home with the class. It has a nice mix of heals (HoT, fast low heal, longer big heal, bouncy heal), some decent damage (including a couple of AE spells), cool rune buffs and some nice utility bits and pieces, such as an AE knockback which is hilarious in RvR and useful in PvE.

Nothing I discovered in beta changed my mind once I fell in love with the class. It’s perfect for me. I can stand where I want and either concentrate on healing, or add to the overall damage the group is doing. I can berate and nag my groupmates to use the runes I put on them – hrrm, you need an explanation? Ok, think of a rune as a buff with a trigger-able aspect. So I can buff your Strength and Intellect and then every so often, if you click on the buff, you get to do some extra free dps that doesn’t cost Action Points. Master Runes, which are gained via masteries are ground runes, which have an AE effect – I found them pretty useful and used the healing one when me ad my over-powered group were bopping skaven on the heads in the Altdorf sewers, meant I could join in the fight while the pulsing rune kept my group topped up! (of course, if we hadn’t have been so over-powered I would have needed to do some additional healing)

I also mentioned the bouncy heal back at my basic run-down. It’s quite cute. You heal someone and then the heal bounces around healing others nearby. It’s not the most useful heal in the Rune Priest arsenal, but it’s one that I was excited to get and read the description of. Because it was a bit different, not just a single heal or normal group heal. Both of which the Rune Priest has too.

Should you make one?

No idea! Do you like being a dwarf with a neat gyro-harness and dangling legs, and some nifty staff-twirling animations? Then it might be for you. It’s a healer sans mechanic, which means it may be seen by some as a little bit less interesting, but I didn’t find myself bored with it (and I have been bored by healing classes, honest – that’s why I usually play a hybrid).

We’re not as sparkly-pretty as the Archmage, nor can we do their damage. We’re not as furiously righteous as the baldies Warrior Priests, but when it comes to being short, round, and bouncing along the ground – we have it covered.

The class will, by now, already have many guides to it. I’m sure they’ll dissect the masteries and skills quite adequately – if you like numbers and have crunchy teeth, then you’ll happily pour over them and will be able to feed back some info to me. I’m terrible with numbers and I get a little funny about reading descriptions too closely.

I’m happy to answer any questions I can about my time as a Rune Priest, but I really did try and save some things for retail – including detailed opinions on every skill and mastery, until I’ve really played with them a lot.

Tanks come from Mars, Healers come from Venus?

Tanks and healers are the two character roles in MMORPGs that don’t really exist in single player games. When it’s just one character against the world, you have to survive the damage, kill the baddies, open the locked doors, solve the puzzles and save the world all by yourself. But in these multiplayer games, you have the option to specialise in a supporting role to better benefit the group.

Even though they are both support-type roles, players have the idea that tanks are more likely to be played by men and healers/support are more likely to be played by women. I wanted to look at whether or not this was true and why people made this assumption, so I started at the motherlode of MMORPG population surveys, Nick Yee’s Daedalus Project. And most importantly, is it likely to be true in Warhammer too or are there other factors in play?

Are there more female healer characters?

There’s no real survey information on this. But my experience is that even male players who usually play male characters may select a female character for their healer. The healing role is associated with feminine characteristics — sits out of the action with a nuturing/supporting role, is often fragile, is looked after by tougher members of the group, wears a robe.

The surveys do show that many people transfer real life assumptions and stereotypes about gender into MMORPGS (eg. treating female toons differently to male toons). And especially for players who project themselves into their online avatars, picking a female toon for a more feminine role might be a natural choice. For the same reason, a lot of people do assume that most women play healers. Even if it isn’t true, healers are associated with the female role.

Actually, tanks are also associated with the male role. Heavily armoured, fighting off monsters, protecting the weaker party members and often taking leadership roles all fit in with a stereotypical male image.

Enough about the characters, what about players?

As part of a general demographics survey, Nick Yee asked players if they would prefer to have healing or damage spells, given the choice. From the link, you’ll see that he’s broken the results down by age and gender. Over all agegroups, women preferred the healing spells and the older respondents of both genders tended more towards healing than younger ones.

He also ran a survey about which players prefer hybrids and which prefer more specialised classes. Again, he found that women and older players preferred the hybrid role. (He doesn’t really define hybrid in any detailed way.) Of course, the players who preferred specialist roles could prefer specialist healers, and not all of the hybrids will be healing. But in the main, hybrids have tended to have some healing ability.

Healers also tend to sit back and take less of a leadership role, how about that?

OK, this is just my assumption. You certainly can lead a group or a raid from a healer, I have in the past, but as a general role it tends to be more reactive than proactive. You wait for people to get hurt and then heal them. You wait for other people to pull and then react. You sit at the back and watch what everyone else is doing, then decide how to best support them.

Nick Yee has an interesting survey where he first asks people if they like leadership roles and then asks if they are guild leaders. What he actually found was that men were more likely to prefer leading but women were proportionately just as likely to be guild leaders. Again, on my experience, being a guild leader is often as much about social and management skills as pure leadership. But what the survey does show is that women are less likely to take the lead when thrown into a group situation (or at least, less likely to claim to enjoy it). This would nudge them away from tanks and towards support classes.

The benefits for social players of playing a healer

Relmstein wrote a great article a few years back about why fewer people play healers. But the rarity of healers and the need for them also makes them a great choice for social players. I know that in WoW I had a very different experience of the game when I was playing a priest. I had invitations for every instance and raid I ever wanted to attend. I never had to look around for a group (this was pre-TBC), they called me! As someone who is primarily social, this was great! Because of the social side, I loved my healer.

Women, who tend to be more sociable, are drawn to healers for these social benefits.

Playing with a partner

From survey results, 60% of women play MMORPGs with a romantic partner. That’s a lot of people. Although some of them, like me, will have persuaded their boyfriends and husbands to play with them, the majority will have been persuaded by their menfolk. When this happens, it tends to be that the person who knows the game better picks their own class first and suggests a good support class to the other one. Since men don’t tend to prefer healing, there’s a good chance that for a lot of these women, the first class suggested to them will have been a healer.

So … you’re saying that women do tend to play healers then?

Well yes. Based on the surveys, more women do tend to prefer healers. But it probably isn’t by as large an amount as people normally assume. Older players of both gender are drawn to hybrids and to healers as well. People also assume without asking that female healing characters are played by female players.

Is Warhammer going to be different?

It could be different and here are a few reasons:

Many of the healing classes are designed to be dealing damage also. You don’t have to choose between one or the other.

Healers may not be in short supply, based on the WHA class survey. If that’s the case, social players may not be nudged towards them so much.

Player base is tending older and more female. More women are playing MMORPGs these days and warhammer may not be their first game. Older players also like to heal and play hybrid classes, and they are not all women.